Curtis T. Hisayasu
Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.
According to the general catalog, English 242 is designed to develop practices of "critical interpretation" around the question of "meaning" in fiction. In this class we will train that critical lens towards the various historically and geographically specific meanings of one of popular fiction's most resilient genres: the detective narrative. From Sherlock Holmes, to Batman, to Veronica Mars, detective stories are a ubiquitous cultural force. As a genre, these fictions are primarily concerned with the discovery of a necessary truth (the criminal act) and the various means and methods by which that truth may be brought to light (the investigation). Critically locating this genre within history, then, means investigating the cultural pre-conditions for both criminal guilt and justice. How can the criminal be identified according to these texts? How does the rise of sciences like psychology and genetics aid or complicate this investigation? How do social structures built around gender and race politics inform the knowledge and authority of the detective? In working within these fields, we will also ask how these texts implicitly critique detective fictions' reliance on truth and certainty. Our mode of "critical interpretation" will hopefully allow us to see these fictions as both emerging from specific contexts and responding to those contexts in complex ways.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
This class is primarily discussion based and daily participation will constitute a significant amount of you're the total grade. In addition, English 242 offers a "W" writing credit. Students will write two 5-7 page papers over the course of the quarter and will have opportunities to revise their writing based on instructor comments. Students should also be prepared for up to 150 pages a week of reading in literature, history and popular culture.